A pastiche of tried-and-true aphorisms best swallowed in small bits.


Peanut Butter Principles


A debut advice book filled with valuable lifelong principles for children, from motivational speaker and successful CEO Franklin.

In five sections (The Super Self, Making Wishes Come True, The School of Life, Relationships, Good Choices) and a year’s worth of instruction, this book should serve parents well as a guide to teaching their kids the habits crucial to success—which in the author’s view is like tasty, nutritious peanut butter enriched with lessons intended to “stick with you your entire life, and if you allow them, they will help to build the character necessary to lead others.” Much of the life-coaching advice here is based on Franklin’s own experience, starting with his teen years when he quickly parlayed a low-paying job into a managerial position), while other lessons are informed by his Christian faith or absorbed from other people—Bill Cosby, GE CEO Jack Welch, Harold Kushner, Winston Churchill, singer John Michael Montgomery, etc. Overall, the advice seems practical, even if it’s nothing new. There’s no room for self-pity here: “You can only climb out of that dark place when you allow yourself to see the light and find the conviction in your heart to reach for it.” While some of the glib observations—“kids are naturally selfish” and “our culture promotes instant gratification”—reflect personal prejudice rather than objective verification, the idea that parents need to thoughtfully inculcate good habits is a worthy one; still, Franklin says, don’t “flood a child’s mind with all this insight at once.” Some of the reminders—that “[a]ll you have is time” so invest rather than spend time, and that there is an important distinction between a decision and a commitment—should benefit both generations. All the easily digestible, straightforward advice underscores his belief that “Education and growth have no end if you move through life with both your eyes and your mind wide open.”

A pastiche of tried-and-true aphorisms best swallowed in small bits.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615912820

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Everilis Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2014

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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